Lawdog school ended in early March. I packed up my skis, tent, and bike, and was quickly on the road to Tahoe. Some things to note:
1) A quarter mile off I-80 in Iowa City, on Dubuque Street is a decent concrete park. Its a great way to break up the drive. The transitions are a bit lumpy, but its still better than almost every modular park on the East Coast.
2) For skiiers from the East Coast and Mid-West, driving across Nebraska on I-80 is a rite of passage. The seven hour traverse across Nebraska is dreaded, eye-opening, and at times, strangely enjoyable.
Hung out with the Ft. Collins crew (Tyler, Toby, and A White) for a night, then drove to Salt Lake for a reunion with some of GMD homies. Apparently their landlord is very relaxed because the crew has installed a sketchy ladder leading to the second story roof. It made for a great view while I enjoyed a few beers.
Finally, onto Squaw Valley and skiing. The Lake Tahoe area has had a “bad” winter but that sort of thing is all relative. It still snowed ~350 inches in North Lake Tahoe. With freezing mountainous nights, there has been more than enough snow to ski various jumps, jibs, and chutes into June.
That’s it for now. Look for video footage of our late spring skiing in webisodes from JankyFilms out this summer! And keep on skiing, there’s still plenty of snow out there that kids from the East Coast would kill to ride.
To say this winter got off to a slow start is most deffineitely an understatement, it almost didn’t show up. The last month however has provided us with some big storms and a more winter-like experience here in Tahoe. It was hard to pry oursleves away from the resorts seeing as some of the most infamous lines and zones have just recently filled in and become ridable after months of leaving such things to our imaginations.
The first week of April started out with some significant snowfall and the end of that first week remained sunny and cold, that combined with some serious wind events gave us the hunch that conditions would at least be decent and allow for some good backcountry exploration. Castle peak was first on the list. It was a zone I have been thinking about all season. The ease of access combined with the featuresque terrain I had seen in photos made it an easy choice for one of our first true tours of the 2012 season. The Castle did not disappoint. Rising over the ridge from the south face we came up on AK style chutes and spines that were untouched. It took a second to realize that all the tracks at the base of the north face were from sleds and not skiers, a foreign sight after spending a couple winters in Little Cottonwood. The conditions were good, better than expected but still variable, thin cover right off the top but better once you got deeper into your line. We squeezed in a couple laps by noon unfortunately I was supposed to be at work around that same time so the ride back down to Boreal was a bit hectic but if your day doesn’t end with a sprint down I 80 in all your gear you may not have sent it as hard as you could have.
Castle Peak made made such a great impression on us that we went back just a couple days ago this time with a bigger crew, the JANKYcam2, and damn near hero snow that was gifted to us this past week. That footage is classified for now but the POV’s from our first jaunt should tie you over.
In three weeks, and one day, I could be done. Done with year two of law school. It has been a wacky time since I left Tahoe in August. Things kicked off with Hurricane Irene right when I got back to Vermont:
Then I sat on my ass, did three months of work straight, and got the most out-of-shape (and best grades) since I drank beers all day in college. The jury is still out on whether the trade-off is worth it:
Next, Vermont had the warmest winter ever recorded, coupled with one of the lowest snowfalls ever. My housemate Jim took this photo of me on the highway embankment behind my apartment in January:
Mud season lasted about a week. April 8th, I hiked up Killington, from the base of Bear Mountain, through both melted out parks, to the peak.
Then boom! EAST COAST POW DAY! Scratch 31 days, make that 32! On April 9th, 18 inches stacked up on Killington. It was easily my best non-park day all season. We got two completely untracked runs. I got this shot of Jim after a 20-minute hike:
With the late season storm, I’ll go out a few more times here on the East Coast. But in three weeks and one day, I’m done. Then it’s back to Tahoe to build some late and great spring jumps. Can’t wait.
Living the way we do, working full time and trying to make a movie, traveling is usually reserved for the shoulder season usually occurring in April and May. But when there is little snow to ride and no work to be had getting out of town seemed like the only way to stay sane. It took just one fall in the firm Squaw park for me to realize I needed to take a little vacation from the ice crust and 45 degree days that have been theme of Tahoe so far this season. So I loaded up Legacy (pronouced with Italian accent) and pointed it towards the coast. The trip was not so much about finding fresh snow as it was about regaining some of the positive spirit that has been slowly slipping away over the last three months. The eventual goal was Vancouver, BC but I would end up settling for a couple days on the North Coast of California and a day of riding at Mount Hood Meadows.
The after a couple wrong turns around Sacramento I cruised over the foothills past Clear Lake and arrived in Fort Bragg (not to be confused with Fort Brag, NC the large military base where the US Special Forces are trained) After dollar tacos at North Coast Brewery and car camping in the 24 hour Safeway parking lot, the first night was in the books. The early morning clouds were starting to give way as I started up HWY1 to the 101.
The therapeutic qualities of getting on the road were evident right away. The winter that wasn’t was out of mind, that space was now taken up by the mind blowing scenery of the California Coast and the Redwoods which put most other trees to shame.
The trip provided ample “GTS” opportunities. Watching the sunset from Redwood National Park, not a person to be seen in any direction. Once the sun had set there was no choice but to drive through the night in order to be in Government Camp by morning. Mount Hood had been receiving storms all all week and 8 inches that day. Combined with the 100 inch base it was the only logical move. I can only pretend there is no winter for so long, apparently two days is the limit.
Sunrise on HWY26 heading towards Mount Hood. It had been well over a year since I had been to Hood and it was the first time being there in the winter. It was a comforting sight and evidence that winter could be found, a tale I would have to tactfully relay back in Tahoe.
I had never ridden Meadows before but that didn’t matter, it seemed like every pass holder I rode the lift with wanted to tell me about the “sickest zone” on the mountain. At first I barely said anything as they started to spill about the goods for fear that one word could set them off into a realization of what they were doing. After a couple DEEP pillowy runs in the woods out the gates of Heather Canyon I started to take more liberties with the locals who, upon an initial profiling, I determined might know where to go. By the end of the day I soaked up enough knowledge to call the day the best of the season so far. Not that there was much competition.
Breakfast and a good ten minute scope of the terrain Mount Hood has to offer. It was time to ride. There will be some POV to accompany this post as soon as I free up some computer space. Footage or it never happened right?
Unable to get my shift covered for the following night combined with the fact that Northwest resorts to not give discount tickets to employees of California resorts even with a letterhead (though mine was out of date to boot) I decided call the trip and head back to Tahoe, hoping that during the 11 hour drive the forecast would change to three weeks of storms (no such luck). Hood to Tahoe takes you right through Bend so it made sense that I end the trip the same way I started it… with a brewery. Deschutes is the most renown of the many breweries in Bend and I had never been, so it was an easy decision. The perfect spot to get a little loose before the long drive home.
The storm here in Tahoe turned out to be a true bust. Forecasts were originally calling for up 10 inches during the day yesterday and up to 25 inches over night. What actually happened? It rained, a lot, for a long time. The cold air mass took its time coming down south and didn’t show up until early this morning. It was reported that the rain did not change to snow until 1 am at 8,700ft , the summit of Squaw is 9,050. Not good. If the forecasts are on track now we could receive about a foot and a half in the next couple days, but not the 5 feet that was being talked about at the beginning of the week.
The question is now, who in Utah, Jackson, or the PNW proper has some floor space and needs some dishes washed?
As I look out the window right now I am staring at trees swaying in the distance, being shaken by the winds that are accompanying the newest storm front. It is January 20th and between me and the swaying trees in the distance is a table, a window and rain falling in sheets, at times falling horizontally. It is forty-one degrees at the lake right now and not much colder up on the hill I just descended. Normally rain to the top of the mountains in a place like Lake Tahoe in January would be a devastating weather event, making the mountain un-ridable until the next snowfall. This season however, with this rainfall things are really looking up. They are saying we could wake up tomorrow morning with over two feet on the ground. If you have been living here since the early winter this forecast seems like a report of our salvation. If you put this in perspective we have received 6 percent of average snowfall this winter (none of which is on the ground any longer) and this storm would put us at just about the 10% mark going into February (6% if you are comparing it to last winter but don’t do that).
There are good winters and bad winters. There is a good chance that this season will still yield some good snowfall and we will all be able to get a fix at some point before the season is over. Its too early to call this season a wash but as part of this aspiring ski/board film conglomerate, with next to no money for any significant, film worthy, travel this season has not yet started. Sure we have been able to ski mini parks and groomed terrain, and despite the fact that the conditions have deteriorated since the lifts started running in mid-November we a have been able to have some fun and get a couple film worthy shots.
It’s important to stay positive but it’s also extremely difficult. I know talking this way about the weather, so passionately, so dependently seems self-centered, childish, and illogical. Why care so much about something we have no control over especially when our use for this frozen precipitation is for sliding face-first, ass-first, and sideways down, recreation to most. And while the core of this argument is correct the fact remains that snow has become a resource which an industry has been built around. Much like warm salt water is a resource for beach resorts and coal has always been a resource for mining companies all to way to energy companies and the consumers at home, a ski destination without snow is not much of a destination at all and the jobs built around this destination cease to exist or are at least put on hold for an indefinite while.
In this very round about explanation I am trying to explain that not only have we not been able to film up to par here in Tahoe so far this season, but the jobs we all hold to fund our addiction have also taken a hit and left us with little in the way of discretionary funds or any funds for that matter. The days of the broke ski bum used to mean that one would chose to wash dishes for meals or a pass, sleep in the car or under the stairs of some local acquaintances in some old hole-ridden sleeping bag just to wake up an score some nipple deep. Today you don’t need togo to such extravagant lengths to be a slumming in a ski town, you can hold two jobs and have a lease on place with 4 to 7 roommates and live right down the road from the mountain. Peanut butter and pasta appeals equally to both all bums alike.
Should tonight’s forecast pan out we could be in much higher spirits come this following workweek. If these types of weather patterns keep up, minus the rain (though I would take a day of rain if every time it did so we could get a few feet of frozen), this two month period of no precipitation could be a distant and easily forgotten memory. I hope it is. But in the end we cannot discount the fact that we have missed out on two months of filming and riding. When the snow does come we will need to get very creative and milk it for all it is worth. Applying the same model for a JANKY film as we have in the past won’t cut it this year. Most seasons the snow and the shots have fallen in to our laps starting, in some cases, early October. No such luck this time around we will need to work for this one. Luckily we are JANKY so if the bar is not reached its because we are passed out under it. Crack a couple for Ullr because the best chance for deep snow if following a night when you’ve had four or more brews, so drink up!
Timmy, Haz, and JP took a trip down to Mammoth this past week. They haven’t gotten much in the way of snow but that hasn’t the park folks at Mammoth from building sick set-ups and the best kickers we have hit to date! Can’t wait to make another trip when there’s snow. Here’s a little tease!
I know it’s hard to believe in a winter like this, but powder snow IS A REAL THING. We had the cameras rolling for the deepest days in what turned out to be one of the deepest seasons in Alta’s long history of deepness. Enjoy!